PHYC20030 Thermal Physics and Materials

Academic Year 2019/2020

Thermal Physics is concerned with the study of the properties of systems containing a large number of particles. Materials physics is concerned with describing the mechanical properties of bulk objects. This module will introduce the student to the basic concepts of thermodynamics and apply them to the study of a number of relevant physical systems from both a macroscopic and microscopic point of view. In doing so, the connection between the bulk properties of matter and the mechanics of atoms and molecules will be derived. In the first part of the course, emphasis will be given to the concepts of temperature and thermal equilibrium, the first law of thermodynamics, entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, and the kinetic theory of gases. In the second part, the material properties of solids will be investigated. This includes concepts such as interatomic forces and bonding, elasticity and the stress and strain of materials.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

After completing this module, the student should have a good understanding of the concepts of temperature and thermal equilibrium, the laws of thermodynamics and the concept of a function of state, and how these are applied to some important thermodynamic systems. The student should be able to apply the principles of thermodynamics to solve problems related to physical systems. Furthermore the student will also understand what is meant by the terms elasticity, stress and strain, as well as being able to solve problems based on these concepts.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours






Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Most of the content will be delivered by lectures with in-class quizzes, demonstrations and worked examples. The tutorials and labs will offer opportunities for self-directed learning , group work and to gain laboratory skills that also reinforce the material covered in lectures. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Students must have either taken PHYC10070 or achieved at least an H5 in Leaving Cert Physics (or equivalent) to take the module in year 1, this module must be taken in years 1 or 2 for all physics degree programmes.

Learning Recommendations:

PHYC10070 - Foundations of Physics

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Continuous assessment problems Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Lab Report: Practical laboratory based assessment Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: Written exam at end of semester 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be delivered during lectures to the class as a whole after assignments have been graded. Individual grades will be available on the student's Brightspace page. During labs sessions face-to-face feedback will also be available from the demonstrator

Name Role
Mr Conor McGrath Tutor